Our gambling guide is designed to quickly give new players key information about online casinos and playing games for real money.
Getting Started With Online Gambling
How Online Casinos Work
Online betting has been available since the mid-1990s. Players in the United Kingdom have access to many options, and are protected by strong government regulation. At Nuestro Casino we only review and recommend sites that are properly regulated for the UK market.
Signing up with a UK online casino is a very quick process. You can often be off and playing with real money within minutes. However, it is important to understand that you will need to complete the full registration process before you can withdraw your money. This usually means submitting a scan or picture of a government-issued photo ID (such as a driving licence) and a document to establish your primary place of residence (such as a lease or utility bill) and waiting a couple of days for the documents to be checked and your account verified.
UK online casinos offer nearly all of the games that land-based casinos do, and they even have a few varieties that you rarely see offline. So how do these games work without a dealer? They consist of computer software powered by a random number generator (RNG). The RNG ensures you are playing a safe and fair game that meets all the legal requirements a regulated UK casino is subject to. Most casinos also licence their software from a third-party developer who implements their own security measures, which prevents the casino (or anyone else) from altering the game.
In addition to the standard RNG-based casino games, many casinos also now have "live dealer" or "live casino" games. With these, an actual dealer runs the action at a real table and is streamed to the players in real-time by video. The dealer's table is usually equipped with a set of scanners and sensors that translate the result of each hand or spin into digital form automatically, so that the game can be played just as you would play one of the RNG-based games.
Different Segments of Online Gambling Sites
You'll often find that UK online gambling sites are separated into distinct sections. There may be different software or apps to download to get access to each of these sections. They also sometimes offer their own individual bonuses and reward systems.
At Nuestro Casino, we focus on the "casino floor" side of things. That means the casino gaming area, which at an online casino would be comparable to the main casino floor that hosts the various tables and machines. However, it's helpful to know about the different segments that online casinos sometimes have as you may be looking for a game that is not included among the main casino games.
Online UK casinos are usually divided into the following distinct operations:
- Casino area: This is where you find the vast majority of the games. You'll go to the main casino to play slots, video poker, keno, virtual sports and all sorts of table games. The live dealer games will also be found here.
- Poker room: This is where you'll go to play poker head-to-head against other online players. The casino makes their money here by taking a "rake" from the winner of each pot.
- Bingo room: Bingo may or may not be included with the main casino games. If it isn't, you may be asked to download a separate app or piece of software to play it. Online casinos offer many different types of bingo and very frequent games.
- Sportsbook: The sportsbook is where you go for all sorts of sport betting, everything from football to esports.
Online casinos allow you to fund your gaming in a variety of ways that aren't available at land-based casinos.
Perhaps the most interesting option is that you can use a credit card to fund your account, something that land-based casinos almost never allow. Just about every online casino in the UK accepts Visa and MasterCard / Maestro. You can also withdraw winnings back to a Visa card, but be aware that many casinos don't allow withdrawals to MasterCard / Maestro as that company has policies about blocking transfers that originate from casinos.
You can also use e-wallet services for very fast deposits and withdrawals. E-wallets are companies such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller.
Want to use cash? Try a prepaid card. Paysafecard is almost universally accepted as a funding method at UK online casinos. You can purchase these cards at most Randalls and Tom Thumb locations as well as a variety of other retail outlets.
An important thing to know is that funds can usually only be withdrawn to an account you have previously used to make a deposit. If you're using a method that you can't withdraw to, or you simply don't want withdrawals going back to your deposit method, some casinos will allow you to receive a bank transfer or cheque instead.
The "welcome bonus" is an important thing to pay attention to when you're signing up for a new account at an online casino. You get just one of these lifetime at each casino. Some casinos that have multiple apps will also only allow you a welcome bonus at one of them - so for example, if you choose the online casino welcome bonus you can't also take the poker room welcome bonus.
Sometimes these welcome bonuses are truly free gifts, but more often there are some conditions attached to them. That's why you're given the ability to opt out of them. With some, you'll need to enter a special code during the sign-up process or you won't be opted in. Others will opt you in automatically at sign-up, but give you the ability to opt out at any time by pressing a designated button in your account menu.
The Fine Details
So how do you know how fast withdrawals will be processed? Or if any fees are charged for a certain deposit method? Or what you have to do to be able to cash out a welcome bonus?
Well, you can always check out our online casino reviews as a starting point. If you don't find what you're looking for there, look for the casino's "terms and conditions" (T&C) page. It might take a little digging through legal fine print, but all registered UK casinos are obliged to provide this information to the public (and the T&C page is where you'll find it).
How to Play Casino Games
Slots are about the simplest form of gambling you'll find. Decide how many lines you want to wager on, decide the size of your bet, then simply press the button and hope that fortune favours you.
The one thing to be aware of here is that if the game features a "progressive jackpot", there is probably a minimum bet amount to qualify to win it.
The goal of blackjack is to beat the dealer either by holding the hand closest in value to 21, or forcing the dealer to "bust" by drawing too many cards. Blackjack easily translates to online play with an RNG as the dealers usually have to play by strict rules that dictate their behavior in every given situation, so that rule set can simply be turned into a computer script.
Video poker is a "hold 'em" game that can be played without a dealer. The player is dealt five cards, then can choose to swap any or all of them out for other cards from the deck. The goal is to form various winning hands in poker. The stronger the hand, the better the prize. The very first slot machines actually resembled video poker more than today's reel slots!
There are quite a few variants of video poker, all with their own little tweaks to the rules. The classic "Jacks or Better" pays back even money if you have a pair of face cards or aces. With most other games, you'll need a minimum of two pair to win money.
Roulette is played by guessing where a ball will land on a wheel. The wheel is divided into 37 or 38 numbered segments, each of which also has a colour. A variety of bets are available that increase in value depending on how unlikely the result is. For example, betting on red or black gives you the highest probability of winning any spin, but you'll only double your money. If you pick the exact number the ball ends up landing on, you'll get 35x your wager back!
Baccarat is often seen by casino newcomers as sophisticated and complicated because of its portrayal in movies, but it's actually quite a simple card game. It's almost like blackjack, except the player and dealer are trying to get the hand value closest to nine rather than 21. The way the cards are valued is also different, with the numerical cards retaining their face value and all others worth either one or zero. Players at the table take turns playing against the dealer, and during each hand all players choose to bet on whether the player or dealer will have the winning hand.
Keno is basically a lottery game, but you can choose how many numbers it takes to win with most variants. The more numbers you hit, the larger the prize. Most keno games have a field of 80 numbers from which 20 are drawn in each game.
Loyalty Programs and Bonuses
How Loyalty Programs Work
Loyalty programs and bonuses are basically a marketing system based on rewards and benefits. The casinos offer these to entice players through the door and keep them coming back.
A "loyalty program" generally has tiers that the player can work their way up to, with fixed benefits in each tier. Players move up the tiers by earning points that come with each wager they make.
As the name indicates, deposit bonuses are a reward for a deposit to your account. Most online casinos familiarize you with these right away by offering a big bonus for your first deposit.
A common offer is to give you a "matching bonus" of free play equivalent to some percentage of your deposit. You might also get some free spins thrown in with the deal.
No Deposit Bonuses
The "no deposit" bonus was invented as a contrast to the standard deposit bonus. This is a new player bonus that you get for simply creating an account, and you can use it right away.
It usually isn't just no-strings free money, however. Winnings from these bonuses are often subject to either a wagering requirement or withdrawal limit. Also, as discussed previously, you will have to complete the process of account verification before you'll be allowed to withdraw any winnings.
"Free play" is simply house money. It's like play money, but you'll get real winnings back from it! Of course, keep in mind that many free play offers are subject to wagering requirements, and some casinos also require that you deplete your real money balance before you are allowed to use your free play.
Slot free spins let you keep your winnings without having to risk any money. Do expect most of these offers to have wagering or withdrawal limitations, however.
"Cash back" offers are relatively rare, but are often worth pouncing on when you see them. With these offers, the casino is basically covering some amount of your losses. Take a loss during the offer period, and they'll reimburse you with either cash or free play.
Sticky vs Non-sticky Bonuses
A "sticky" bonus is one where the bonus funds can never be withdrawn. Let's say you meet the wagering requirement on a sticky bonus and still have some bonus funds left over. With a non-sticky bonus, the bonus funds would be added to your balance and could be withdrawn. With a sticky bonus, you can withdraw any winnings from that period of meeting the wagering requirement, but all you can do with the leftover bonus funds is continue to play them until depleted.